Over the summer, the agencies held meetings to set up six teams with different tasks related to the joining, which was approved in June by Synod 2015.
Soon, they will be sending out a questionnaire to the boards and all CRC staff, seeking assistance in refining the mission, vision, core activities, and guiding principles of the new missions agency. The second round of the feedback process will focus on external stakeholders.
“As this gets underway, the boards of the two agencies are in prayer and concerned and recognize the magnitude and impact that this project has on all of us,” said Gary Bekker, director of World Missions, speaking at a meeting including staff from the two agencies.
Recently, he said, the boards met and agreed on the need for this process to move as quickly as possible, keeping in mind that there is a great deal of work to do.
“The boards have asked us to have various pieces, such as drawing up proposed formal articles of incorporation, ready for meetings in February,” said Bekker.
Looking forward, the agencies “are developing a work plan with specific tasks that need to happen in the next three to six months and in the next year,” said Moses Chung, director of Home Missions, at the staff meeting.
“We will also be working on a timeline as we move into the whole process of designing this new agency.”
Chung said that the teams working on the plan include Organizational Design and Mission Integration; Organizational Culture; Theology; Innovation and Early Collaboration; Advancement, and Prayer and Intercession.
At the staff meeting, members of the Organizational Design and Mission Integration team — the group working to craft a proposal for what the new agency may look like — spoke about the process they will use to engage both staff and eventually the broader church in imaging the future.
“Today, we live in an interconnected world. The basic question is how we can best come alongside both congregations of the CRCNA and the church globally so the mission truly becomes from everywhere to everywhere,” said Joel Huyser, leader of the design team and a regional director for CRWM.
In order to do this, he said, the team is using the metaphor of a sandbox with four sides.
One side, he said, is the vision or the preferred future to which the agency aspires in its work; a second side is the mission or the reason for which the agency existing; a third side consists of the core activities or the things that need to be done day in and day out to complete this mission, and the final side consists of the guiding principles or values of the new agency.
The metaphor of the sandbox, he said, comes from the book, Leading From the Sandbox: Develop, Empower and Release High-Impact Ministry Teams by T.J. Addington, the director of ReachGlobal, the mission organization of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
Using the metaphor of the sandbox, Huyser said, they are asking, “How can we construct a sandbox which would empower our staff to ‘play,’ to create, to innovate, while at the same time assuring a necessary core alignment?”
“How can we construct a sandbox in which local congregations, classes, international partners, and young adults, among others, can play and learn together to produce fruit through the power of the Spirit?”
A key part of the process will be seeking ways of gathering information and input from others, he said.
“We want to get as wide of a variety of perspectives as we can,” said Huyser. “We want to ask people to help us develop the sides of the sandbox and invite them to begin to imagine how they might play within it.”
Joel Hogan, another design team member and director of international ministries for World Missions, indicated the need and desire, as the process unfolds, to engage pastors, youth, members of various ethnic communities, ministry partners and others.
But to start, CRC staff and board members will be asked to respond to questions and offer suggestions for how to best join the agencies.
“When this hits your computer screen, don’t sideline it or ignore it,” he said to staff. “We need to hear your voice. We will discern what this new agency will look like by listening to each other as well as to how the Lord is leading us.”
At the end of the meeting, Chung said, “We already have a lot done. We have good teams in place.”
Still, he said, "This is both an anxious and exciting time. We believe the Spirit of God is moving around the world and among us.
“We want to identify what God is saying so that we can get greater clarity as to where God is in order that we may join him in doing mission.”